QUEENSRŸCHE members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren announced on June 20 that they were parting ways with singer Geoff Tate and recruiting powerhouse vocalist Todd La Torre of CRIMSON GLORY as his replacement. The new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup has already performed live, having played two shows in their home city of Seattle under the name RISING WEST.
In a recent interview with RollingStone.com, Tate revealed that he filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates on June 12 in King County Superior Court in the state of Washington in order to "sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff." Tate is also attempting to get a court injunction against Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield that would prevent them from using the name QUEENSRŸCHE for their new group.
On Monday, July 9, Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield filed a response to Tate's motion for preliminary injunction and included individual declarations from all of the defendants supporting their position that Tate's motion should be denied. As one would expect, these documents — copies of which have been obtained by BLABBERMOUTH.NET — contain startling details about the circumstances that led to the split between the singer and his one-time friends and longtime bandmates.
In his sworn declaration, Eddie Jackson writes, in part, "While we were recording the band's fifth album that was released on EMI Records called 'Promised Land', Geoff Tate had been experiencing marital problems. I'm sure he had a very difficult time focusing on both his marriage while also trying to be creative; however, while in the studio, I witnessed something that was a bit disturbing. I was sitting at a table reading some of the band's fan mail and started hearing yelling and cursing. As I turned my head towards the direction it was coming from, that's when I saw Geoff Tate slam through one of the studio doors while screaming at Chris DeGarmo from two feet away, yelling something in the likes of. 'Don't bring any more of your bulls**t here. I don't need any more of your bulls**t!' He was in such rage I thought he was going to physically assault Chris DeGarmo. He continued to yell a couple more expletives and just walked away. Chris DeGarmo, like a true gentleman, just kept his composure and started walking towards the front door. I wanted to share this incident because to this day Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton and I have continued to witness this type of random violent behavior from Geoff Tate on several occasions when he gets extremely angry and upset.
"After the album release for 'Hear And The Now Frontier', followed by an extensive tour, it was evident that something wasn't right. Since Geoff Tate didn't write any music, we continued to collectively submit to him various musical compositions to work on. However, Chris DeGarmo had been very quiet with very little communication. Chris DeGarmo finally contacted everyone to schedule a band meeting where he informed us he had made a decision to leave the band.
"Over the course of the next five album releases ('Q2K', 'Tribe', 'Operation: Mindcrime II', 'American Soldier' and 'Dedicated To Chaos') the band had gone through three guitar players, four management firms and five record companies.
"After Chris DeGarmo left, the band he was adamant about hiring Kelly Gray as the next QUEENSRŸCHE guitar player. We had also severed ties with Q-Prime Management that had been managing us for about eight years, and decided to hire Ray Daniels, who at the time was also managing the bands RUSH and VAN HALEN. Once again, since Geoff Tate didn't write any music, and the band continued to collectively submit to him various musical compositions for the next album called 'Q2K'.
"Kelly Gray did not write the whole album with Geoff Tate as he claims. Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield, Kelly Gray and I spent many hours writing song ideas collectively and individually.
"After just one album and an extensive tour with Kelly Gray, Geoff Tate refused to continue working with him because of his substance abuse and Kelly Gray was eventually fired. Geoff Tate also decided to fire our manager, Ray Daniels.
"Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and I weren't too pleased with the firing of Ray Daniels, but to avoid Geoff Tate's random violent behavior, we decided it would be best to just keep our distance and not start an argument. Lars Sorenson was hired as the new QUEENSRŸCHE band manager. Susan Tate (Geoff's wife) was already working with Lars Sorensen as an assistant.
"After a year later, Geoff Tate decided to fire Lars Sorensen and conveniently hire his wife Susan Tate as manager. Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and I knew it was a recipe for disaster and had no choice but to accept the idea if Geoff Tate was to continue working with the band.
"Before recording the album 'Tribe', frustration started to build with Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and I towards Geoff Tate in regards to songwriting, the type of direction the band should be taking, along with certain decisions made by Geoff Tate that he did not allow us to take part in. He was creating a negative energy around our work environment. In fact, his wife Susan Tate emailed us and said that 'my husband has a dark side… I'm having a difficult time trying to reach out to him!'
"Geoff Tate spiritually had removed himself from QUEENSRŸCHE and basically stepped away for about a year and decided to record his own album; however, at the same time, causing a serious detriment to the QUEENSRŸCHE brand. Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and I, along with Mike Stone, continued to write music and compositions for obvious reasons and eventually submitted them to Geoff Tate. In fact, we even rented a studio room at Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville, WA for two weeks to compose. Geoff Tate would on occasion stop in from time to time after riding his motorcycle to hear the various compositions we had written.
"Chris DeGarmo had been invited to participate on the 'Tribe' record. He recorded and composed several songs.
"When Chris DeGarmo was in the band, he used to take part in a lot of Geoff Tate's vocals sessions, and they would work together creating vocal harmony ideas, etc. However, Geoff Tate's demeanor continued and when it was actually his turn to start recording, he rudely told Chris DeGarmo that he wasn't needed. Not a pleasant, 'Hey, thanks for coming back and recording with the band' attitude, especially toward someone who used to be in the band for 15 years and had written arguably the most popular song QUEENSRŸCHE had ever recorded! As usual, Chris DeGarmo, like a true gentleman, just kept his composure and simply got up and left.
"It wasn't long before we started to question some of Geoff and Susan Tate's business decisions. Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and I continued to witness the same disrespectful, controlling negativity from Geoff and Susan Tate and Jason Slater during the writing process for the album 'American Soldier'. The three of us refused to work with Jason Slater again; however, Geoff and Susan Tate paid no attention to us and decided to hire Jason Slater again as co-producer. Once again, Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton and I had no voice in the decision. Our working environment had become very stressful.
"'American Soldier' sold approximately 60k copies. That's less than half of what the last album 'Operation: Mincrime' sold.
"As usual, the band continued to submit song ideas to Geoff Tate [for what became the album 'Dedicated To Chaos'] without any musical composition or contribution from him. We all worked long hours collectively and individually for several months.
"Geoff and Susan Tate insisted on hiring Jason Slater once again, even though the rest of us disapproved because of the problems we had encountered with him from before. Our stress levels were high and simply could not voice our opinion on the matter since they fell on deaf ears if we were heard at all.
"During the course of recording, Kelly Gray would continue criticizing Geoff Tate's song selections and decisions and simply said, 'This isn‘t the direction the band should be going.' Kelly Gray had also commented on how he had been underpaid and mistreated by Geoff and Susan Tate.
"Our last album called 'Dedicated To Chaos' was the band's most criticized effort to date. It was not well received. This was a band direction Geoff Tate insisted on taking even though the rest of us had disagreed.
"As you can see by QUEENSRŸCHE's last three album releases, sales have declined significantly during Susan Tate's involvement as band manager, in addition with Jason Slater's and Kelly Gray's involvement. Kelly Gray had also taken notice of the band's decline in records sales and direction and commented several times that 'Susan Tate as band manager has run out of gas, and you should considered seeking new band management.'
"In the 30 years as a band, we have never submitted a hard copy paper form via USPS to schedule corporate officers/shareholders meetings. Every meeting has been scheduled through phone conversations and also, texting and emailing when it had become available as another form of communications.
"While on tour a couple of years ago I remember having an argument with Susan Tate over a tour bus issue and she was quoted as saying… 'I have to do what's in the best interest of MY HUSBAND to keep him happy' instead of saying… 'I have to do what's in the best interest of the BAND!' It obviously shows that she wasn't representing the band as a whole.
"The continuous nepotism from Geoff and Susan during her involvement with the band had caused many arguments, generated more tension and a high level of emotional stress on Michael, Scott and I.
"Since January of 2012 a notice of a shareholder and/or corporate officers meetings (approximately 4-5) were submitted to every band member. Michael, Scott and I were always present at these meetings, however, Geoff refused to take part in any of them without a valid reason.
"Michael, Scott and I constantly tried to find ways to minimize costs, however, at the same time maximize our dollar. Geoff's idea was always… 'Why do we need to worry about cutting costs?… We'll just find a way to just make more money!' Not very good business sense especially with the economic recession we've been experiencing over the last 4 years!
"We had a discussion about the current fan club office situation because it was costing the band so much money monthly, and especially since we weren't performing many shows in 2012 we weren‘t going to generate a lot of revenue. Basically, more money was going out than was coming in. The idea of hiring an online company to do this was much more cost effective in comparison. Geoff refused to go along with the idea because his wife and daughter were on the payroll. Needless to say, after eliminating the rental office lease payment, employee payroll, utility expenses and accounting fee's the bands accountant Neil Sussman was also in agreement of the amount of money the band would be saving on a yearly basis by switching to an online merchandise company per an email he submitted to all the band members.
"From March 2012 till to this day Scott, Michael and I have been denied access to the band's web site (Facebook, Twitter, PayPal accounts).
"While on tour in 2007, Geoff Tate physically assaulted Scott Rockenfield in the band's dressing room over another disagreement. He grabbed Scott Rockenfield's laptop and shoved it in his face and proceeded to swing at Scott Rockenfield while screaming expletives at him.
"Geoff Tate has made several comments about how he despises the hard
rock/heavy metal genre which is what QUEENSRŸCHE's style has been from the very beginning.
"Twice in the fall of 2011 while on tour, Geoff Tate's irrational, violent behavior surfaced again after a discussion we had regarding songs that fans have been requesting us to perform for quite a few years. While the rest of the band were in agreement with the fans, he screamed in disapproval, 'I don't want to play those stupid songs. I didn't write them!' and stormed out of the dressing room in a violent rage.
"Moments before performing a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Geoff Tate physically assaulted Scott Rockenfield and Michael Wilton several times in front of a dozen witnesses including the band crew, the opening act, FATES WARNING, the local promoter, his assistant and among a few others. He even told our tour manager after he physically assaulted Scott Rockenfield and Michael Wilton that 'I'm going to f**k with Scott throughout the show,' and was repeatedly spitting on Scott Rockenfield's drum kit and Michael Wilton's guitars and amplifiers through the course of the night. At the end of the show, our tour manager told us to not go to our dressing room and go straight to the vans and to our hotel because he was afraid Geoff Tate would try to physically assault one of us again. He even had the hotel place security on each floor next to our hotel rooms that night for our own safety.
"Geoff Tate's claim regarding Scott Rockenfield's comment ('I've fired your wife, your daughter and now you're next!') is completely false, and even our band crew who were present at the time of the incident would testify to that.
"Several weeks following the Sao Paulo incident in Brazil at the M3 Festival in Baltimore MD, Geoff Tate continued to make threats to Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton and I if were to get near him while performing on stage.
"Another several weeks later, Geoff Tate's rant 'you guys suck' to the fans while performing a show in Oklahoma was extremely unprofessional and has only continued to damage the QUEENSRŸCHE brand name.
"Geoff Tate's continued random threats and irrational, violent behavior still poses a threat to Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton and me, and has caused a significant amount of stress and we therefore cannot continue working with him in the future."